A cup of tea has caused a storm in Bihar, where state elections are due next year. On Sunday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, during a tour of flood relief centres, stopped at Mirzapur, the village of senior RJD Leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui.
After inspecting flood relief work, Nitish Kumar went to Mr Siddiqui's ancestral house and had tea. Several bureaucrats accompanying the Chief Minister were also present.
Mr Siddiqui was a minister in the Bihar government until Nitish Kumar abruptly ditched his alliance with Lalu Yadav's RJD and Congress in 2017 and reunited with the BJP.
After hosting Nitish Kumar and fueling intense political buzz, Mr Siddiqui refused to say anything.
Nitish Kumar didn't oblige anyone with details either but both knew the message had been delivered loud and clear.
What has fanned the flames is a curious clarification from Nitish Kumar's deputy, the BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi.
While responding to a debate in the Bihar Legislative Council on Monday, Mr Modi took everyone by surprise when he declared, out of the blue, that the NDA coalition would fight the Bihar polls under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. Then, in a comment that appeared to target both Nitish Kumar and the RJD in one strike, wondered who would try to sail on a sinking ship.
The deputy Chief Minister's comments took many by surprise.
RJD chief Lalu Yadav's wife Rabri Devi remarked that Sushil Modi was unnerved by Nitish Kumar's "chai pe charcha" with Mr Siddiqui.
On Tuesday, Nitish Kumar was present in the assembly when Mr Siddiqui launched a vitriolic attack on the BJP and Sushil Modi. "Why has no central minister visited flood-affected areas or sent any central team," he questioned. He also asked why Sushil Modi discussed politics in his reply on state's finances a day earlier.
Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Choudhary joked: "Siddiqui saheb aap to karan nahi hain (hope you aren't the reason for Modi ji speaking out of turn?)", drawing laughter from everyone.
Relations between Nitish Kumar and the BJP have been strained since the national election, in which the two parties boasted an impressive haul of seats and were almost neck and neck. Nitish Kumar was upset when the BJP offered only one cabinet spot to his party, saying every ally had been offered the same.
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